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China Enhances Laws Aimed at Protecting Women

The Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law was passed on October 30, after being submitted to the legislature days before.  The National People’s Congress advised that thousands of submissions had been received from parties interested in contributing to the design of the new law.   The changes in the law come at a time when the traditional roles of women in China are being reinforced, as the country grapples with record low levels of marriage and birth-rate. 

While complete details are yet to be published, it is expected that provisions in the new law will include:

  • Clarification of women’s rights in the workplace - ensuring employment, job opportunities and promotions are not restricted by marriage, pregnancy, parental leave, and breastfeeding.

  • Obligations on employers to prevent and proactively handle reports of sexual harassment

  • Enhanced rights of women in obtaining medical treatment without the intervention of their spouse.

  • Prohibition of sex identification of a foetus and gender based terminations (except for specific medical reasons)

  • Obligations on government departments to report the abduction, trafficking, and withholding of women against their will

Outlook for Employers:  While the prevention of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace will form part of existing labour security supervision, implementation and enforcement guidelines are not yet available.   We anticipate further information will become available once the law comes into effect on January 1, 2023. 

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Authors: Michelle Swinden

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